Madressah versus modern education.
Byline: M. Zubair Farooqui - Islamabad
THIS is with reference to the editorial 'Streamlining madressahs' (Jan 28). According to the agreement between the Wafaqul Madaris and the Ministry of Education representatives, all madressahs in the country are to be registered only with the Ministry of Education. To ask them now to register themselves with the local administration seems discriminatory and uncalled for.
It will be appropriate to ascertain the viewpoint of the Wafaqul Madaris representatives on this point and have it published in mainstream media for the benefit of the general public.
There is a tendency in certain quarters to associate madressahs with sectarianism, violence and terrorism.
Although most madressahs are graciously excluded from the odium, the list of the culprits amongst them is never made public. How would the people then know the black sheep and keep away from them?
In fact, such madressahs deserve to be prosecuted under the law. While the government's eagerness to reform religious schools is laudable, it must also be realised that streamlining government-owned schools and colleges is also called for, particularly concerning the quality of teaching material, mode of delivery and evaluation process.
With crumbling walls and floors, broken windows and furniture, absence of toilet facilities and non-availability of drinking water, etc., especially in far-flung areas of the country, the quality of education in state-run schools cannot be expected to be satisfactory.
Most madressah students indeed come from the poorest sections of society and seminaries provide them with free boarding and lodging at the lowest minimum level, besides free religious education.
It is not difficult to wean them away from madressah to institutions providing modern and liberal education if only the philanthropists amongst the critics of madressah education feel inclined to offer them the facilities similar to, or better than, those available in the madressahs.
Yes, finding a job appropriate to their education is a problem for madressah graduates, as only a few of them end up as preachers and prayer-leaders, while the remaining take up some odd jobs to eke out a living. But the situation is not different for those young persons who pass out from other streams of education in the country.
The solution lies in having an integrated national system with a common primary education from where all the students will gradually branch off towards various fields as they move up to the middle, secondary, tertiary and university levels.
These students will have some better multi-disciplinary skills to meet the requirements of different jobs.